Germany During the War 1939-1945 Part V

The double Anglo-American landing in France soon led (11 September 1944) the first American army to cross the German border near Aachen. It was possible to erect a new line of defense on the western front, but only at the expense of the eastern front, where the Russians advanced relentlessly and forced the eastern satellite states to lay down their arms: Romania on 12 September, Finland on 19 September., Bulgaria on October 28, Hungary on January 20, 1945.

Germany was now absolutely alone, but apart from small strips of land in the Rhineland and East Prussia it still retained its old territory. The Russians were at the gates of the Mittel – Europe, not yet in its center. The decisive question for the future of Germany and Europe was posed in these terms: it will be the Western powers or the USSR that will first overthrow the German defense, will occupy its capital Berlin and after the catastrophe will politically dominate Europe. Central.

According to Paradisdachat, the decision was provoked by two events at the end of the year: the failure of the German counter-offensive in the Ardennes (December 1944) and the decision taken in Yalta on February 11, 1945 by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin, to divide Germany into occupation zones., who left central and eastern Germany in the hands of the Russians and secured the Oder-Neisse border to Poland as compensation for the eastern provinces to be ceded to Russia. Thus the division of Europe was sealed even before the last act of the drama had ended.

After the relocation of the bases on the continent, the aerial bombardments had taken such proportions and forms that life for the civilian population had become unbearable; Fighting soldiers at the front declared unambiguously that fighting in the front lines was more tolerable than the incessant airborne alarms and bomb carpets on the inhabited neighborhoods of large cities, the incineration of entire cities by incendiary and phosphorus bombs, of death by burning thousands of people in air shelters (as for example in Würzburg on March 16, 1945). If, however, in spite of everything, communications, food distribution and public order were still able to function, all this is due to the innate discipline of the German people and to their ability to organize,

Even on German soil the war was waged with the same disrespect as on enemy land. An order from Hitler of September 14, 1944 imposed the destruction of all buildings, bridges and other constructions that in any way could be useful to the enemy. On October 14 the draft was ordered en masse which forced all men to report to the army; on March 19, 1945, the army commanders and the Gauleiters were warned that they had to go to war without any regard for the population. The propaganda of the Nazi party endeavored to galvanize, by hinting at the invention of new weapons, the hope for a favorable outcome of the war, a hope that had long since been extinguished among the vast majority of the population. But it was a crime to want to base the hope of avoiding catastrophe on these weapons, since these weapons could no longer be built en masse. Not only the chief of the general staff W. Guderian, but also Himmler, were persuaded of the inevitability of defeat and the latter, through the Swedish count F. Bernadotte, offered the Western powers to lay down their arms on the western and southern fronts., of course without success. Hitler, on the other hand, continued madly to trust his star and to resist even when the allied armies, after March 23, broke the West German front and advanced into northern and southern Germany, even after the Russians began, on April 12, the great attack on Berlin and enveloped the city from north to south. Locked up in the shelter of the Reich Chancellery, he, seized by a furious mania, he continued to issue commands to armies that no longer existed, to sacrifice human lives without regard. Only on 21 April, when the Russian shells were already falling on the streets of central Berlin, did he admit defeat in front of his collaborators. Completely finished spiritually and physically, he fearfully awaited the catastrophe. Once again a vain hope lit up in him when the false news came that in the meeting place of the Americans and Russians near Torgau on April 25th, a conflict had broken out between them; he had always hoped for such an occurrence. But when the news proved false, he definitely collapsed. Although no absolutely incontrovertible evidence has been brought up to date, there is no reasonably doubt that he committed suicide on April 30th; Goebbels met the same end the following day. Goering and Himmler had left Berlin and declared themselves dissolved by him. Hitler had appointed the great admiral Dönitz as his successor. By order of him, on 7 May, Colonel General Jodl signed unconditional surrender in Reims; this was repeated in Berlin on 8 May by Field Marshal Keitel. The southern front had capitulated before.

Germany During the War 1939-1945 5